Dooley Noted: 12/16/2014
My business partner, Jason Kapnick, is an elite powerlifter.
He deadlifts over 600 pounds.
What’s special about Jason is that he isn’t condescending to people who are new to the strength world. He encourages people to be what he affectionately calls “animals.”
In September, I deadlifted 225 pounds for one rep and felt a sharp pain in my left SI joint.
That pain lasted for two weeks and ruined my training and general sense of joy.
Kettlebell deadlifting and barbell deadlifting are quite different, and I didn’t yet understand the technique changes I needed to make to keep safe.
So, I healed up. Rather than be scared to deadlift, I went to an expert.
I had zero hesitation when I asked Jason to teach me to deadlift with perfect form.
He sent me a popular program doing submaximal work. This ten-week program was about to change my life, and I didn’t see it coming!
It’s just a barbell deadlift, right?
What’s the big deal?
Jason rocked my world as he showed me I was going into too much low back extension.
He taught me to be safe in approaching a more neutral low back position.
He showed me the narrowing I personally needed in my stance.
We worked on coordinated breathing to maximize spinal protection.
It all seemed much like what I teach to someone when rehabilitating the back.
It was all the things people with low back pain tend to be scared to do.
So, the program started off moderately light on week 1, at 165 pounds for 5 sets of 5 reps.
Although it was lighter, my technique was more solid. I felt safer.
In the ten weeks that followed, the weights went up by 5-10 pound increments, finishing at 215 pounds for 2 sets of 2.
I never deviated. I stuck with the program and gave it a fair shot.
Here were the results:
1. My right valgus collapse dramatically improved to the point of being not visible.
2. My chin-ups and pull-ups became markedly more solid and easier to execute.
3. My SI joint pain completely vanished.
4. My abs were easier to feel and to engage in all activities.
5. My butt and hamstrings came alive in my one-arm push-up.
6. My quiet breathing improved, due to enhanced ab loading with intra-abdominal pressure building.
7. My 20 kilo strict kettlebell press became markedly easier, as I wedged myself under the bell with more ease.
8. I looked forward to every Monday, as I was excited to deadlift pain-free and get results from every aspect of training.
9. I took something that used to cause me discomfort and turned it into something to which I looked forward.
10. Lat, ab, and glute activation in everything I do is no longer a chore. And when you have these three things, you are approaching a world of stability.
11. The 215 pound day felt so much easier and more explosive than the 185 day, even though it was heavier. I got stronger by doing less than my max with better technique.
Jason watched my first and last set each week, and his critiques were priceless. His expert eye helped with glitches, but he never overly nuanced me.
I had to pick up heavy things, and he made sure I was accurate in doing it.
I was bummed as I finished the program, begging Jason for a new one.
If you are scared to deadlift, don’t be. You simply need solid technique and to work in a submaximal zone for a little while.
If you have sticking points or plateaus in your training, seriously consider adding in submaximal deadlifting.
If you haven’t been coached in a quality deadlift, hire someone like Jason.
As always, it’s your call.
– Dr. Kathy Dooley